Fuel-saving Homogeneous Charge Compression Ignition (HCCI) technology has been in development for decades but could soon make an appearance in a production car.
Early this year, it was reported that Mazda was looking to introduce an HCCI engine in 2018. Now, Motoring is reporting that the first recipient will be the redesigned Mazda 3 which is due in 2018, as a 2019 model.
The Australian publication is also reporting that Mazda will reveal details of its HCCI engine in August and that a concept previewing the redesigned Mazda 3 will be presented in October at the 2017 Tokyo auto show.
Much like diesels, HCCI engines rely on sparkless ignition via compression, but they run strictly on gasoline. Their efficiency comes from burning a homogenous mix of and air and fuel at lower temperatures, which ends up reducing much of the heat energy lost in a normal gasoline engine and can see fuel consumption reduced by as much as 30 percent. The process also produces much fewer emissions.
The main problem is the specific temperature needed for smooth operation. Too cold and it affects the performance of the ignition system. Too hot and you end up with engine knock. HCCI engines also tend to wear out faster. To get around the temperature problem, Mazda’s HCCI engine is expected to be capable of conventional sparkplug ignition when necessary, such as during cold starts.
As for the redesigned Mazda 3, it will be a substantial update of the current model introduced for 2014. Mazda employed a similar strategy for its redesigned CX-5 introduced for 2017. In this way, the automaker only needs to develop a new platform for every two vehicle generations.